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Firearms / Shooting

A Moderated BSA 30-'06 with Meopta 3-12x50 Variable 'scope


Knowledge and experience

All stalkers should aim to gain knowledge and experience both in the practice of stalking, and in the ecology of the deer.  This can be gained either through recognised training courses, the expert guidance of an experienced stalker or a combination of both. Stalkers can demonstrate a level of competence through attainment of the Deer Stalking Certificate.

In March 2003 the government reaffirmed its position that attainment of deerstalker competence certificates should be voluntary.

Although deer are comparatively large animals, the vital areas for clean kills are small. No one should consider stalking unless they can consistently shoot a group of three shots within a 10cm target at 100m.

A shot should be taken at a range that will ensure a humane kill. Shots should never be taken at a moving or badly positioned deer, in poor visibility, through cover, or at any time when your aim is not steady.  After taking a shot, always assume that you have hit the deer until you have proved otherwise by thorough searching. Always follow up and humanely despatch a wounded deer, regardless of the time and effort involved.

Deer and the law

The law regarding the killing and taking of deer is not consistent throughout the UK. In both Scotland and Northern Ireland the legislation is different from that governing England and Wales.

In summary, the following are some of the more important provisions, but this is NOT to be taken as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

Although the Deer Acts and Orders contain exceptions, particularly to allow occupiers to protect their crops (certain conditions apply) from excessive damage, and to permit mercy killing of an animal to prevent suffering, the stalker must NOT...

  • use anything except legal firearms to kill deer
  • shoot out of season unless authorised to do so
  • shoot at night (one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise) except under license
  • shoot from a moving vehicle,  or use a vehicle to drive deer (vehicle includes aircraft)
  • sell venison in Northern Ireland, except to a licensed game dealer
  • sell venison in Scotland, except to a licensed venison dealer.


Soft Point Bullet - Sectioned and Impact deformation

Firearms and ammunition

The stalker must only use a rifle and ammunition which are legal for the species of deer being shot. In addition to compliance with the law the stalker should be guided by knowledge, experience and personal preference in their choice of a rifle and ammunition.  The legal requirements are laid down in the several Deer Acts and Orders.  For example:

England and Wales

For Muntjac and Chinese Water deer only- a rifle with a minimum calibre of not less than .220" and a muzzle energy of not less than 1000 foot pounds and a soft or hollow nosed bullet weight of not less than 50 grains may be used.

For all deer of any species - a minimum calibre of .240" soft or hollow nosed bullet and a minimum muzzle energy of 1,700 foot pounds is the legal requirement.


Download the Home Office Firearms Law, Guidance to the Police 2002






Subpages (1): Guidance to Police